Friday, 30 September 2011

Friday happiness…

I’m so glad it’s finally the end of the week, not to mention the month. I’ve always dreaded Septembers. They meant the end of summer and the beginning of schools, the beginning of the nasty season. At least during October there is an element of romanticism and of autumn.

This week has been generally uneventful. Work has been busy. I’m generally getting at ease with my new responsibilities, people and environment. I only have another 4 months to go to finish my probation period! Yoo-hoo! I don’t think I have anything to fear but still. I would be nice to get it over with.

Anyway, it was my mother’s birthday yesterday. We talked on the phone. She sounded happy. She’s now in her early 60s. Both my parents are generally very active with a social circle to keep them occupied. They do have some minor health issues but generally they’re well. They’re of course very concerned at what’s going on at Greece at the moment. They’ve seen their pensions diminished and they worry about their future. I generally advise them not to watch too much telly, but I don’t think they can help it. I had told my brother to send her flowers on our behalf.

I don’t have any special plans for this weekend apart from a birthday party tomorrow night. The birthday girl booked a table on our favourite gastro pub. I hope the weather stays as amazing as it is at the moment and we could have a bbq outdoors!

Monday, 26 September 2011


I had an extremely busy day. I got up around 6ish and I went to the gym for an hour before work. I like how quiet it is in the morning. That way there aren’t too many massive muscly guys admiring themselves in the mirror. I’m also able to leave my evenings free by doing that. Work’s been very busy today. I didn’t even get up from my chair to go to the little boys’ room until my lunch break. The bad thing with development is the fact that you can get stuck easily. It’s like having a mathematical, puzzle problem. After you figure it out it you wonder why you couldn’t see the solution earlier. However, before getting there you (or let’s say I) can’t relax before figuring it out.

Anyway, I did have some excitement this evening. A massive spider crawled close to me on the living room’s carpet! I don’t have a phobia but I have been bitten in the past and it is not a fan of the experience. I threw a book on it and I left her there. The arachnoid was massive I’m telling you. The good thing of being a geek is that there are big books at an arm’s length at any time. Eventually I removed the book and threw the spider away. I maybe shouldn’t have killed her but I couldn’t simply leave her wandering around. I’m still looking over my shoulder for her relatives though.

Yeah, I know. I’m living a very exciting life. It’s been a bit like that lately. I haven’t been doing anything extraordinary. I think it’s the season. The day’s getting smaller and the temperature’s dropped. I have been planning some changes, new stuff, concerts, visitors and holidays for the winter though. I’ll keep you posted.

Sometimes no news is good news.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bad Karma

What is wrong with Japan? Who managed to put a curse on the whole country? Definitely 2011 has not been a good year for the land of the rising sun! After the earthquakes, the tsunami, the cyber-attacks and the nuclear plant meltdown there is now a typhoon on their way! Why? OK, that is a stupid question, but I strongly believe that the people of that country are challenged way too harshly for the sins they might have committed.

I salute them for the way they’ve been handling things. If you’ve seen any documentaries on the Fukushima disaster, you will see that the people seem generally disciplined, resilient and positive. They’ve been trying to help the authorities without complaining. It is unfair that they’ve been going through another natural disaster. OK, that is probably the wrong thing to say. No one deserves to get affected by natural disasters, but still…

I thought of trying to find what wrong they could have done recently to damage their karma so much but it’s not easy. I’ve learnt that Japan has more than 6,500 islands (wow) and a population of 127 million people (tenth largest population). They’ve done some really nasty stuff during the Big War, but who hasn’t? Also, I think that punishing the country now after 70 years, is a bit unjust.

On the top of my head, I could judge the country on their policies regarding whaling. When most countries have signed against it, Japan continues to turn a blind eye towards that issue. I understand that whaling is part of their culture and history. However, the gravity of the situation is such that there might not be whales in the future…

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to visit the country. I am fascinated by their history, culture, food, Manga and technology. I love how they combine the old and the new, maintaining values and looking at the future at the same time. I must postpone my visit for a few years though. Although now the prices must be cheap, I don’t want to bring back radiation as a souvenir.

Seriously now, I wish to them all the best

Monday, 19 September 2011

Some things never change…

I was preparing a post for the latest news on Greece. It’s a topic always on my mind (for obvious reasons) but I decided to spare you the tediousness. It’s Monday, not a great day by any means, so I’m trying to think of a subject to present that is more appealing and less sad. Since I can’t find a specific one, I will just mention recent things I had on my mind…

I’m now finishing the third book of the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ by R.R.Martin. That book was split in two in the UK, so I am officially finishing book 3B. For those who are interested in Fantasy books, I have to say is a must read. I generally love the fact that each chapter is written from the perspective of different characters, some of which are the bad ones. I also love the complexity of challenged characters by nature like ‘Tyrion’ also known as the ‘Imp’.

nice adaptation...

The story is very complicated with lots of different characters with their own agendas. I don’t want to give away too much but there are way too many people interested in gaining the control of the throne making the story complex and interesting. In the meantime there is a very dark and scary menace looming on the North and another exiled heir to the throne gathering forces to the East. What I mostly love in the story is that characters the reader thought are there to stay, find death in a horrible, almost easy way. Has anyone seen the telly series?

On another geeky issue the new iphone, version 5, will be released early October. I’m really looking forward to seeing Apple’s new tagline. Will it be ‘It changes everything yet again once more’? I know many of you are already converted to the Dark Side, but I hope to stay in the boring, yet functional and geeky Jedi Side…

Since, this post is turning into a geek theme, I’ll keep on. Am I the only one who things that ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is really good? I believe it’s very well written. I don’t how old the series I’m watching now on UK television is, but I still find it hilarious.

Speaking of television, I have to add that I highly enjoy ‘Qi’ as well! This is the only knowledge comic ‘quiz’ show, if you can call it that. Where else can you learn that the ancient Greeks were using bread (baguettes) as dildos or the fact that Coke without colouring is green and that the biggest tyre manufacturer in the world is Lego?

that's my official goodbye to summer...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Scary stuff…

I’ve noticed that as years passed, my tolerance and nerves evolved and changed. Nowadays, while I’m living my third decade on this world, I have to admit that I am not as fearless as I used to be. I’ve never been a carefree, reckless person. I always had my wits, being somewhat mature for my age. However, I was still fairly bold.

I’ll give you some examples. I’ve been travelling almost all my life. I boarded a plane for my first time when I was 8 and I’ve been flying ever since. I can still remember my first visit to the airport and how in awe I was of the big plane. I remember sitting by the window with my mother next to me and my first ever take off. I was extremely excited of this new experience. When the plane had to change course, I was on the side facing down. I completely loved it. I felt like superman, even feeling a bit light headed, facing the ground and the cars that looked so small.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I suffer from pre-trip jitters. I get a slight knot on my stomach just before take-off. It lasts only for some seconds and I try to ignore it by either looking out of the window, by reading a book or checking out other passengers. I think it’s completely ridiculous and embarrassing. I love travelling. I always had and I always will. It can’t be getting stressed, even slightly, for flying.

My second example is scary movies. I used to like watching them, although I never was a major fan. I’ve seen most old Carpenter or Clive Barker’s movies. ‘The shining’ and Hannibal series are one of my all-time classics. I’ve even enjoyed stuff like ‘Candyman’ or ‘Night of the living dead’. I have to admit that I had flinched while I was watching them, but it was never as bad as it is now.

I don’t know if contemporary horror movies evolved and changed to be more realistic and scarier. However, I have great difficulty in watching them. Yes, I have evolved into a wimp. Even watching some of their movie trailers is stressing. Especially if there are children evolved. Why do they put children in horror movies? To scare people you would say, but I just find it cruel!

Unfortunately, my better half loves them. He admits that sometimes he gets distressed but not that much and he loves the excitement. He even wants to go and see them in the cinema. That’s a definite no-no for me. There is nowhere to hide in a cinema theatre! There are not even pillows. In DVD I can watch almost everything from ‘Friday the 13th’ to ‘The Ring’ to ‘Saw’, although these movies wouldn’t be my first choice. But I could never go and watch ‘Paranormal Activity’ in the cinema. How about ‘Harry Potter’, I would suggest?

This scariness evolution must be normal, right? Children are considered generally fearless. They don’t recognise that climbing up there is simply dangerous! Gravity can be a real bitch. You get a better understanding of the real world growing up (although that is not very good in my opinion). I just hope I don’t turn into a manic phobic, being afraid of my own shadow.

I don’t think I’d easily sky dive, but I can be brave, right?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Names and Pecans

Maybe it is just me but I have this habit to tend to name people. Depending on some characteristics I see on them, physical or personal, I associate people with a celebrity or a movie character and I tend to stick to that name. At least that’s what I do in my head. Some of these are not very flattering.

I can’t say too much about it, since these are real people I work with. However, close to my team we have Gimli. That’s the dwarf from ‘Lord of the Rings’. He’s short, central European and somewhat round with a beard. The only thing missing is an axe and a helm. There’s also Cruella Deville. She’s tall, very thin with pointy skeletal face. She tends to wears somewhat extravagant colourful dresses. She even acts like the queen bee. I can totally see flowers dying when she walks past them. In addition, I’ve spotted Moby, Thor and Will.I.Am. Especially Thor looks amazing. Every time I see him I remember the ‘Adventures in babysitting’.

Thankfully, I can remember their regular names as well. I only hope I don’t call them wrongly. It will not go down very well.


Since I am a bit all over the place recently, I’m jumping to a very different matter. I tried to bake yesterday. I like cooking and I love baking. I even watch a baking program on the television, like every sixty year old woman that respects herself does. Normally I only do savoury things like pies or quiches. I don’t have a sweet tooth. However, JJ does. He can eat in one go a full ice cream bucket. I might have ice cream in the freezer and it can stay there for weeks. Anyway, he was working last Sunday for a quite a few hours and I wanted to lift his spirit.

So, I googled a cookie recipe. I found something that looked easy, a chocolate and pecan cookie recipe. I bought the ingredients and I started the baking process. From the beginning I saw that it wasn’t going well. When, I tried to melt the chocolate in the microwave, I slightly overdid it and I burnt it. Then, I wanted to mix that with sugar, vanilla extract, butter and an egg before adding flour and soda. I didn’t have a mixer and I started by hand. It wasn’t that easy to do and I also should have left the melted chocolate to cool a little longer.

The final mixed ‘product’ didn’t look that amazing but I hoped it tasted good. At least it smelled chocolaty. I tried to separate it by creating 12 cookies in two trays. I baked them for 12 minutes and I tried to rearrange the trays in the oven so that they are evenly baked. Ha… I wished…

All cookies in both trays merged together. Instead of 12 cookies, I got 2 big ones. I assume my trays weren’t big enough and I couldn’t separate them that much. The single cookie in one tray was a bit overdone as well. The picture I’ve uploaded is from the bunch that looked better.

I did separate the 6 cookies of the good bunch and I took them to JJ. He was very happy about them and polite enough to say they were amazing. Next time I’ll try first buying a mixer. I’m now thinking of starting baking my own bread. If only for the smell of baking bread which I simply love.

Friday, 9 September 2011


They say that they can cut deeper than swords and they are right. They can be cheerful, elevating, harmful or destructing. They can even be sexy. Yes, words can be sexy. I was thinking combinations of sexy words like ‘bearded footballer’ or ‘ginger rugby player’ or ‘Ben Cohen’! What sounds sexier than that? Just let your imagination run.

Generally, I don’t think I am very good with words, even in my mother language. I don’t tend to use polysyllable words or proper words to replace secondary sentences. I find it easier to describe something in my own way than use one single word with the same meaning. I think that’s only natural however since everyday conversations make our vocabulary poorer. It’s a bit sad though.

The Oxford English Dictionary I think has more than 150,000 entries. I think that the average person might know a third of them? How many are active though? Everyday television, newspapers and even modern books follow the trend of simplifying a very beautiful and rich language. I’m not saying we should talk the same way Shakespeare wrote. However, I think that it would be nice to keep some standards.

I generally object the notion to change the spelling of words so that they’re simpler or because lots of people misspell them. ‘They’re’ is different to ‘their’ and ‘you’re’ is different to ‘your’. The same thing is of course happening to the Greek language. I’m not going to argue about whether it’s as rich a language or not as English. I think that it’s more difficult to write since there are strict rules on how to write it. For example it has several different vowels sounding exactly the same. Instead of the simply ‘i’ we have ‘η’, ‘ι’, ‘υ’, ‘οι’ and ‘ει’ which all are pronounced like the English ‘e’. However, some people want to replace all these with the simply ‘ι’. It might make things simpler, but simpler doesn't mean better...

You're probably thinking what is this weird guy on about... Just call me old fashioned or simply weird that I think of these things...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

‘The skin I live in’

I like European movies and by that I mostly mean non-Hollywood films where the action is slower, the scenes longer and the dialogs fewer. I like them for their honesty, their humour and even their lack of modesty. I generally prefer Spanish and French spoken movies of the last decades, mostly because they were easier to find even in the local Greek stores.

Another reason I love these movies is because some of them tend to present stories w
ith a homosexual element in a different way that American movies do. I can very clearly remember for example the first time I watched ‘Gazon maudit’ or ‘Segunda Piel’. The first movie I found funny and the second tantalising but both very interesting. I do recommend you find them and watch them.

Among my favourite directors and writers is Pedro Almodovar. I’ve seen most of his movies back to the time of ‘Women in the verge of a nervous breakdown’, ‘Kika’ or ‘Matador’. I was intrigued by his outrageous stories, peculiar characters and unrealistic situations. Of course not all of his movies are as good. However, I keep coming back to them without a second thought.

His latest movie called ‘The skin I live in’ and demonstrates a plastic surgeon (A. Banderas) with a test subject he holds captive in his house. There are many questions that are triggered. Who is the captive woman? Why does the surgeon hide her and what happened to his family? What’s wrong with her skin? What’s the role of the strictly looking housekeeper?

The story slowly unfolds by travelling back in time, mostly to the surgeon’s past and all stories are at the end answered. If you’ve ever watched another Almodovar movie, then the whole setting of the movie is somewhat familiar. Facial expressions and emotional loud music are two elements that are quickly eminent. The movie trailer demonstrates it to be a thriller, however it is not. There are of course moments of high intensity and the movie is indeed dark, but I wouldn’t say It’s a thriller.

Overall I have to say that I liked it, although I wasn’t amazed. I’d score it 3.5 out of five. I believe that the main characters, Banderas and Paredes who plays the housekeeper are excellent in their roles. I also enjoyed its photography and music. However, I fear that I had higher expectations and I was expecting a masterpiece that I didn’t see. I do recommend it though to those who want to see a different movie with some nice twists.

Monday, 5 September 2011

5 on the Fifth

Welcome to the '5 on the fifth', a posting where you share 5 photographs taken on the days leading to the 5th of each month. It's organised by Stephen from 'The State of the Nation UK'. This month's theme is 'MESS' and these are my photos:

That's the local antique shop. It can't get any messier than that. It has lovely stuff, but it is a bit difficult to walk into it.

That's the neighbour's front garden. Can you see the main house entrance in the back?

That's my mess drawer. I think everybody has one. It contains old camera, old keys, cables, adapters, remotes, old cameras etc...

Messy cables by the Earl's Court tube station...

messing around...

Friday, 2 September 2011

It’s all a matter of perspective…

Lately I’ve been thinking how our attitude affects the way we react to external triggers. That’s not big news you’d tell me, but I was amazed at the extend this can get. I noticed this mostly during the evenings I go to the gym when I have the personal torturer.

The evenings I was in a good mood, even if I was tired, I was able to follow through the whole session without complaining much and managing the weights and exercises suggested. However, the evenings when I was cranky and didn’t want to go to the gym, the sessions seemed never ending, more difficult and like a torture. These evenings were more common when I felt under pressure from external factors, like the Java exams last year or the new job last month. I wasn’t able to put all my problems aside and forget them at the entrance to enjoy my time there.

In a way, I do believe that bad things happen to bad people. I believe that if you’re bad tempered and complain all the time, it’s like you’re provoking Fate to throw the worst at you. For example, my grandfather was like that. I remember once the whole family went out for dinner. Around 14 people ordered their food and it happened that out of everybody, my grandfather had to get the spoiled portion. A huge argument followed. I very clearly remember my mother asking why it had to happen to my grandfather and not someone else. The whole fight would have been avoided!

I don’t want to become like that. I want to be able to control my temper or mood or attitude to a degree at least. So I’ve started trying to change my mood before my gym sessions. Some people use some kind of meditation or breathing technics to do that. I try to use music. I avoid all sad or nostalgic songs and I prefer strong upbeat songs. For example ‘Adele’ can’t put me in a gym mood. However Ting Tings singing ‘That’s not my name’ or Pink can. I wouldn’t go as far as Marilyn Manson. I don’t want to wreck stuff. I need to feel confident that I can go through the session and do almost everything thrown at me.

So far, this technic more or less works. Last night I even stayed with ‘gb’ a bit longer after the session with the trainer to do some more repetitions. That has never ever happened before. Usually, I am the first out. I was in a good state of mind yesterday. I don’t know how long this will last till something or someone stresses me too much or pisses me off making me lose my focus. Life is not easy but I hope to try to make the most of it.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

There’s no place like home

with so much drama…

So, I went back to Greece last weekend. It was all very nice. The weather was warm and sunny. I caught up with some old friends. Most of them feel trapped in the current financial situation and complain about it. The market is still suffering and there aren’t many jobs. One ex-university colleague and very good friend will most likely make a move and try to find a job in London. We’re already rewriting her CV in English and plan when and where to start applying. So, you might hear of her later on this year. I will be living with ‘JJ’ till then but he gladly offered her a place to stay at the beginning of her new life abroad!

During my visit I even went swimming. Last Monday, that same friend who’s thinking of moving to London, pick me up with her car and after sorting some errands she had, we headed to the beach. Because it was Monday, the place wasn’t very busy but nice and quiet. We planned her future and thought of possible solutions to her problems. It felt a bit weird but very nice lying under the sun. Some days earlier, in London, I was feeling the autumn coming. Now, I was in my swimming trunk half naked feeling warm.

My happy feet by the sea

Anyway, the wedding was really nice. The ceremony took place outside the city, in a farm, under the trees. The only downside was the slight smell coming from the livestock. However, there was a slight breeze in the air, who was very welcome. The reception was in a nearby restaurant / bar, under the trees. Since it was my cousin’s wedding there were many relatives I hadn’t seen in ages. So, I had to spend some time simply greeting one aunt or another. And I do have a lot…

The day before the wedding, I went for a walk with my mother, alone. We had decided to visit some local shops and my father’s never in the mood to join us. After walking for quite a bit, we sat in a nearby coffee place. After sharing some general gossips, I decided to talk to her about ‘JJ’ and that we’re moving in. It didn’t go as smoothly as planned…

lovely unhealthy food.

What I haven’t mentioned because I am still a bit in denial, is my current health situation. During my latest health check for my new company, the doctor found that my bad cholesterol levels are high, very high. This can only be caused by my bad genes since I am fairly young and active. OK, I have some extra kilos that I could live without, but in any case the situation shouldn’t be that bad. He suggested a special diet, which in case it didn’t work I should start taking medication. That completely freaked me out. I’ve just turned thirty. I can’t be taking pills for the rest of my life! I simply can’t. So, I was thinking of visiting a dietician and give that a go. If that doesn’t work in a year, we’ll see.

I mentioned that to my mother first before ‘JJ’. I didn’t mention how high my cholesterol is. I didn’t want to completely freak her out. I told her that it is slightly higher than the limit. She was generally fine by it. We agreed that I shouldn’t ignore it and that I should also warn my brother to get a blood test. She was even fine with me taking pills. She wasn’t fine about ‘JJ’ though.

teddy bears drying upside down...

What she first said was: ‘here we go’! Then she asked me about JJ. She wanted to know his age and profession! She added that my father is completely freaked out about the whole thing and there is no way she can calm him! She even asked me what to tell people!!!! At that point I got really annoyed! I hoped that my health would be more important as an issue, even if I tried to sugar coat it a bit. Also, I thought that when selecting a partner there are more important things than his age and job! Of course she didn’t like the fact that JJ is older than me. She made him sound like a pervert taking advantage of poor innocent me! I know that probably I shouldn’t have but I stopped the conversation then and there. I should have been more patient…

I spent more time alone with my mother but the issue wasn’t brought up again. My father was as distant as he normally is. The only personal thing he told me was that I’ve gotten fat the last months (always nice to hear)! The three of us went for dinner and spent time together, but the conversations circled around my new job and other general topics. No, there wasn’t a large elephant in the room!

The night I had the conversation with my mother I couldn’t sleep. I was annoyed and angry. It was also very hot and humid so I spent the night twisting and turning, sweating. The next day I relaxed though and gained a better perspective. I also managed to put on my thicker skin. My father’s freaking out because he lives in a very homophobic environment. Because of him, my mother is afraid to reach out to me. However, I’m very certain that I am doing the right thing moving in with ‘JJ’. They can’t change my mind about this. I also have the support of my friends and my brother. I’m not going to apologise and be defensive about my decisions which are only affecting me at the end of the day.

I’m not going to stop talking to my parents. I love them and I know that in their own way they love me as well and want the best for me. The day before I left, I bought them a camera to start video calls. We haven’t tried it yet, but we will, probably this weekend.